China in charge

A note from the editor

Yohann Koshy

Fear of a red planet

It’s 1860 and the ‘century of humiliation’ is underway: China is forced to open up to the opium trade and Hong Kong has been handed over to London. British troops slaughter thousands and burn the emperor’s Old Summer Palace to the ground.

Today it’s Britain that goes to Beijing cap in hand. A Chinese firm is putting almost £2 billion ($2.4 bn) into redeveloping London’s Royal Albert Dock, from where imperial ships once set off, and partly financing the UK’s largest infrastructure project, a nuclear power plant in Somerset. George Osborne, former chancellor, put it bluntly: ‘China is what it is. And we have to either be [there] or be nowhere.’

The average Briton is likely unaware of this historical reversal. The average Chinese person is very much aware. As a factory worker in Guangdong told the journalist Alec Ash, who collected vox-pops for this issue: ‘I hope [China] will become even stronger, so that in the future no-one will bully us, like your country did a hundred years ago.’ But what is China really planning for the 21st century?

We have sought to answer this judiciously. There are more than enough ‘red scare’ stories in the Western press that treat this nation of over one billion people as a monolith. But nor should the prospect of a nationalistic superpower with a powerful betrayal narrative fill internationalists with much hope.

Elsewhere, there is a moving cartoon history of the final days of Sri Lanka’s civil war and, in the Long Read, gay women from Equatorial Guinea vividly and unflinchingly tell Trifonia Melibea Obono their experiences of forced motherhood and ‘family values’.

Yohann Koshy for the New Internationalist co-operative.
www.newint.org

The big story

Since the 2008 economic crisis, China has invested heavily in infrastructure. The largest radio telescope in the world, for observing outer space, was completed in 2016 in southwest China.

Since the 2008 economic crisis, China has invested heavily in infrastructure. The largest radio telescope in the world, for observing outer space, was completed in 2016 in southwest China.

Photo: Liu Xu/Xinhua/Alamy

China in charge

From a poor agricultural nation to the second-largest economy in the world: the rapid rise of China is one of the most remarkable facts of this era, as Yohann Koshy finds out. But how did it happen? And what comes next?

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The Big Story

Take action

Campaigning and more reading on China.

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A fisher catches crayfish near a canopy of solar panels in Yangzhou. China has quickly become the world’s poster-child for renewables.Photo: Meng Delong/Getty

How green is china?

Ma Tianjie examines the limits of China’s ‘ecological nationalism’.

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China - The Facts

China - The Facts

Where’s the money going?; More money, more problems; Climate breakdown; In focus.

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Uyghur men in Xinjiang pray during the Corban festival (Eid) in 2016. Public displays of religiosity are now considered signs of extremism.Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty

Living in a ghost world

Since 2016, at least a million people have been sent to re-education camps as part of the Chinese government’s persecution of the Uyghur people. Yohann Koshy speaks to anthropologist Darren Byler to find out what is going on in China’s northwest province.

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(Previous page) A guard at the Mombasa terminus of the Chinese-financed SGR railway. Saturday is one of the busiest times on the line, as Kenyans travel from Nairobi to the coast to visit family.Photo: Luis Tato/Bloomberg/Getty

The Beijing connection

China is Africa’s largest trading partner and has become deeply involved with the continent’s politics in recent years. This has not been without its controversies. Christine Mungai reflects on the past, present and future of the relationship between these two powerhouses.

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A still from the music video for ‘Room Service’, via the record label 88rising, by hip-hop sensation Higher Brothers.nin.tl/higherbrothers

(Don’t) fight the power

Amy Hawkins surveys the cultural landscape in the world’s second-largest economy.

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Looking the very picture of a traditional way of life, mathematics teacher Phunchok Angmo, photographed at Thiksey monastery, near Leh, Ladakh, is observing startling changes among her pupils. ‘The children here no longer care about the culture and they spend less time talking to each other,’ she says. ‘They spend their free time on laptops.’Photo: Cathal McNaughton/Reuters

Globalization and extremism – join the dots

Insecure people can be highly susceptible to false narratives purporting to explain their precarious situation​, argues Helena Norberg-Hodge.

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Bulu Bari is a regular at the Bangladesh Film Development Corporation complex – but work is scarce.

Dhallywood dreams

Under a tree in the studios of Bangladesh’s struggling film industry, women extras in the shadows of glamour wait for work. They tell Sophie Hemery and Alice McCool their stories.

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No room for dissent

With a year to go until Myanmar’s next general election, political activism is being pushed to the periphery. Charlotte England reports.

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Illustration: Nadia Akingbule

‘I didn’t want to be a mother’

In a groundbreaking new work, Trifonia Melibea Obono has sought out and recorded the unheard stories of lesbian and bisexual women living in the small West African state of Equatorial Guinea.

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Opinion

View from Africa

View from Africa

After Mugabe by Nanjala Nyabola.

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View from Brazil

View from Brazil

Suicidal drives and fake patriotism by Leonardo Sakamoto.

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View from India

View from India

We need to talk about toilets. By Nilanjana Bhowmick.

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Currents

Police are now responsible for 40 per cent of all homicides in Rio.Photo: Ratao Diniz/Alamy

Law and disorder

Violence in Rio de Janeiro. Report from Brazil by Beatriz Miranda.

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Introducing...

Introducing...

Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change.

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Get out

Get out

Report from Spain by Eoin Wilson.

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Not so nobel

Not so nobel

Report from the UK by Husna Risvi.

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Precarious lives: garment workers, mostly women, make sportswear in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.Photo: Chris Stowers/Panos Pictures

Everything but arms

Report from Cambodia by Daniel Quinlan.

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Still waiting for self-determination: an indigenous Saharawi woman sits inside her tent in Tifariti, Western Sahara.Photo: Zohra Bensemra/ Reuters

Conflict minerals

Report from Western Sahara by Chris Brazier.

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Eying up the Fitzroy

Eying up the Fitzroy

Report from Australia by Nick Rodway.

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Reasons to be cheerful

Reasons to be cheerful

Ride and joy; Green hope; Truth to power.

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Regulars

Letters

Letters

Praise, blame and all points in between? Give us your feedback.

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Illustration: Sarah John

Wish fulfilment

Parsa Sanjana Sajid visits a popular shrine and witnesses the everyday mingling of the social and the spiritual.

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Photo: Sopa Images Limited / Alamy

Sign of the times

Deforestation is not a hair cut.

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Open Window

Open Window

Electric Life by Gatis Sluka (Riga, Latvia).

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Photos, clockwise from top left: a rugby match between an invited World 15 team and Ikaletahi, the Tongan national team, in celebration of King George Tupou V’s coronation in 2006; graffiti on a burnt-out store after the riots in the capital Nuku’alofa in November 2006 – businesses that were foreign-owned or owned by the Tongan elite were targeted by rioters; a portrait of the former prime minister, ‘Akilisi Pohiva, who died in September 2019; women and children waiting for transport home after Sunday-morning church in Neiafu, the second-largest town in Tonga, on Vava’u island – the women are wearing black mourning clothes.Photo: Jocelyn Carlin/Panos

Country Profile: Tonga

The facts, figures and politics of Tonga.

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Breaking waves

Breaking waves

The Sri Lankan war of 2009 marked the termination of a long and bitter fight for autonomy for the island’s Tamil community. Benjamin Dix and Lindsay Pollock tell the story of Vanni, the Tamil region on the island’s north.

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The debate: Is concern about population growth exaggerated?

What’s happening to human numbers – and what should happen – is a hot topic again. Mohan Rao and Sara Parkin go head to head.

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Big Bad World

Big Bad World

Fight climate change by P J Polyp.

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Photo: SOPA Images Limited/Alamy

Temperature check

Six things you can do to protect the Amazon by Danny Chivers.

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Photo: Alessio Perrone

'Rebuilding' and social cleansing in Syria

Bashar al-Assad’s regime has laid out a blueprint for the reconstruction of Syria. But this rebuilding works towards a social-cleansing agenda, say Syrian architects and urban planners Hani Fakhani and Abou Zainedin. They spoke with Alessio Perrone.

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Photo: Derrick Ofosu Boateng

Southern exposure: Derrick Ofosu Boateng

Highlighting the work of artists and photographers from the Majority World.

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Photo: Mikhaill Metzel/Tass/Alamy

Hall of infamy: Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan

 Richard Swift on the notorious Emirati ruler, MBZ.

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Only Planet

Only Planet

Cartoon on Trump by Marc Roberts.

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Agony Uncle

Agony Uncle

Should I call the cops if I witness a theft? Ethical and political dilemmas abound these days. Seems like we’re all in need of a New Internationalist perspective.

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Illustration: Andy Carter

What if... cities became car-free?

Vanessa Baird on how to turn a toxic bane into a liberating blessing.

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Film, Book & Music Reviews

Mixed media: books

Mixed media: books

Sophia; A People’s History of Heaven; Nudibranch; Guest House for Young Widows.

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Mixed media: Film

Mixed media: Film

Sorry We Missed You; The Report.

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Mixed media: Music

Mixed media: Music

O Céu é Velho há Muito Tempo; Bantou Mentale.

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Spotlight: Peter Cusack

Louise Gray speaks to Peter Cusack about a sensory project bringing a new dimension to environmental storytelling.

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